New fronts in the effort of disseminating science

The RIDC NeuroMat currently hosts five projects to disseminate science, funded by FAPESP. These projects focus on many aspects of how to develop a media strategy for improving science communication: collaborative technologies, transmedia, interactions between specialists and interested audiences, training of science journalists.

These projects, under the scope of FAPEP’s Media & Science call for candidates, share NeuroMat’s basic understanding of the work on scientific dissemination: the expectation is that contributions on science communication, education and exhibition are at the edge of the scientific knowledge on how to disseminate science. This means that the advance of practical results in science dissemination depends on simultaneously moving practice and theory forward. The association between dissemination concrete projects and theoretical, process-driven reflections on these projects and scientific dissemination has been a flagship of NeuroMat’s scientific dissemination strategy.

An evidence of this investment in theory production is the continuing participation in scientific events. The NeuroMat scientific dissemination team has participated in seven conferences since 2016, including the Brazilian Congress of Science Communication (INTERCOM), with three presentations. In June, a member of the team will present at the Conference of the National Association of Communication Graduate Programs (COMPÓS).

The NeuroMat scientific dissemination team has also sustained with at least two posts a week a blog in Portuguese on processes and results associated to its work. The blog is available here.

NeuroMat’s science dissemination coordinator Fernando J. da Paixão (UNICAMP) and communications manager João Alexandre Peschanski (FCL) are in charge of leading these projects.

Research achievements of the team are available at a special page on a platform called Wikiversity. This link includes research results, events, on-line training descriptions and research projects.

Individual projects

Two science-dissemination projects are associated to NeuroMat’s Wikipedia Initiative. Marília Reinato Carrera has worked on improving content pertaining to Basic Mathematics on the electronic encyclopedia in Portuguese. This work is supported by NeuroMat investigator Anatoli Iambartsev. Carrera’s project is called "Spoken mathematics: audio description of Probability and Statistics entries on Wikipedia,” and according to its official description: “Given population's right to education, according to the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the fundamental role of mathematics for the formation of individuals, in agreement with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the research project aims to contribute to scientific dissemination through Wikipedia projects, in the context of RIDC NeuroMat’s Wikipedia Initiative. One achievement is to improve the access of probability and statistics formulas to people with visual impairment. Given also the importance of Assistive Technologies for digital accessibility, the research project intents to reflect on how web-2.0 technologies can boost the dissemination of scientific knowledge among the society.”

Carrera’s work runs in parallel to Wilson Vicentim’s Wikipedia activities. He currently holds a position of what is known as Wikipedian-in-residence, contributing to improve how the NeuroMat community interacts with Wikimedia projects and to translate high-end scientific knowledge into Wikipedia entries. As the research project goes, Vicentim is interested in understanding how a country’s scientific culture is associated to the quality of contributions to scientific entries on Wikipedia.

Carrera and Vicentim are the third research project FAPESP has funded to work on Wikipedia at NeuroMat. The first FAPESP grantee was David Alves, who worked theoretically on the possible uses of Wikipedia to disseminate science and who was also engaged in improving the connection between top-tier research from the NeuroMat team and web-2.0 media platforms.

Alongside the work associated to the Wikipedia Initiative, the NeuroMat science dissemination team has three other fronts of activities. Giulia Ebohon has been exploring new forms of representing visually science NeuroMat produces. Her research project is called “Representing Neuromathematics: the image in science dissemination,” and holds that: "Like textuality, images are sources of knowledge, and can be illustration and representation of knowledge. Based on the concept of a complex image, coined by Josep Maria Català, the research project aims to use visual communication as a tool to interrogate the duality between art and science and, at the same time, explore imaginary paths that enrich understanding of the real in the field of Neuromathematics, contributing to its dissemination.” Practically, Ebohon will produce time-lapsed videos on NeuroMat research papers.

Karolina Bergamo’s work is associated to the development of NeuroMat public-health science initiatives: AMPARO and ABRAÇO. Bergamo has currently working on the launching of the ABRAÇO website, to become a reference for brachial plexus injuries research, and educational tools on this type of injuries. The theoretical challenge Bergamo has faced is the proper communications dynamics to be held between scientists, care professionals and patients. She has been involved in the development of a comic book to explain what the brachial plexus injury is.

As part of a commitment to scale up the training of science communication professionals, NeuroMat has taken up the challenge of developing an online course on Science Journalism. Daniel Dieb is the communications researcher who is working on content development for this course. The course follows strictly a curriculum FAPESP has established as mandatory for any science journalist it supports. The theoretical challenge Dieb is facing is how to define the scope and boundaries of science journalism, especially in an ever-evolving media context.

This piece is part of NeuroMat's Newsletter #39. Read more here

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